Motel closures sends signal to proprietors
Location, location, location is the mantra of real estate value. Last week’s closure by Alcoa Police of the Days Inn/Budget Inn Royal Extended Stay shows law enforcement is well aware of the concept of targeting property.
It’s no secret that the motel complex on Alcoa Highway generated many calls to authorities. The Alcoa Police Department received 755 calls from Blount County E-911 dispatch for service related to the motels 2007 through 2012.
Finally fed up with the activity, the city cataloged its records to document a history before filing an abatement of nuisance petition with Blount County Circuit Court.
The petition states the motels are an “establishment where illegal drugs and quarreling, fights and breaches of the peace are rampant among its patrons and visitors, with full knowledge and approval of the owners and managers of the property and hotels.”
There was plenty to document. Illegal nuisance activities included 43 reports involving drugs (includes possession and sale), 50 reports for incidents of quarreling, fighting or breaches of the peace (which included 34 domestic related disturbances or assaults and nine other assaults), 20 reports related to public intoxication or alcohol related offenses and two prostitutions.
Reports of other crimes included three robberies, six rapes, 43 thefts (including eight motor vehicle thefts), seven burglaries, five frauds and 10 vandalisms. There were 14 incidents reporting juveniles on the scene, with one child abuse case.
Officers reported two deaths and three attempted suicides. Seventy-five people were arrested on outstanding warrants. There were 83 calls for welfare checks, many of which included checks on motel guests suspected of overdosing on drugs or attempting suicide or checking of the welfare of juveniles.
On many calls, responding authorities found rooms that openly contained illegal drugs, syringes and other drug paraphernalia. Of the criminal reports taken by the Alcoa Police Department, none were reported by the motels’ management but were generated by APD officers on the scene or by patrons of the motels. The property has video camera capabilities, but the cameras are not monitored or maintained.
The innocent victims are the legitimate residents of the motels who were forced to move on the day they were ordered to vacate.
City police and officials have prepared the way for cleaning up a “nuisance,” as defined by law. Now it’s up to the court system to determine the fate of the property.
Regardless of the judicial outcome, the challenge for police will remain — protect and defend the citizenry regardless of where laws are broken.